`IS flag` near Islamabad alarms law enforcers
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By Ikram Junaidi and Mohammad Asghar | 9/25/2017 12:00:00 AM
ISLAMABAD: Law enforcement agencies swung into action on Sunday af ter a flag, supposedly belonging to the self-styled militant Islamic State (IS) group, was discovered on the outskirts of the capital.

Taking notice of the rumours, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal asked the Islamabad inspector general of police (IGP) to look into the matter and submit a report, before leaving for a trip to China.

The flag, which was hoisted on a bridge near Iqbal Town in Khanna police precincts, triggered a debate on social and electronic media over whether it belonged to the IS or not.

Khanna Police Station House Officer Abdul Sattar told Dawn that the flag did not belong to IS, but police were unable to definitively identif y it by the time this report was filed.

The flag came to the attention of authorities after a citizen reported it to police. A team from Khanna police reached the spot and removed the flag.

Investigators could not determine who had hoisted the flag and when questioned, the citizen who gave police the initial information said that he saw the flag while passing through the area and assumed that it belonged to the terrorist organisation, as it was similar to IS flags he had seen in television reports.

The flag, which is black in colour, bears the message `The caliphate is coming`, along with names of Allah, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) andthe first Kalma.

`After receiving information about the flag, we removed it immediately, but despite our best efforts, it could not be confirmed whether the flag belongs to a party or a group. It could be mischief or a prank, the Khanna SHO said.

`The IGP has called a late night meeting to discuss the issue and a report will be submitted to the minister for interior,` he said.

When asked if an FIR had been registered, Mr Sattar said one would be registered following the ministry`s directives.

A senior police officer, requesting anonymity, said this development should not be ignored.

`It can also be an attempt to see whether our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are capable of solving such cases, whether they can trace the culprits or not. We will also check if we can get any help from the Safe City Project,` he said.

The last time such flags were spotted near the federal capital was in Nov 2014, when a number of flags were seen on electricity poles near the highly-secured Pakistan Ordnance Factories at Wah.

Three years have passed, but the Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) has been unable to identify who placed those flags.

A senior Rawalpindi police officer told Dawn that following the discovery of the suspect flag in Islamabad, police had intensified search operations in the garrison city and were taking all possible measures to avert anything that could disturb the peace.